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Strange Oil Dipstick Reading


Jon Bhoy
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Ok heres Jons strange question of the day! ;-)

Did an oil change a few weeks back and checked oil and was low so topped it up . Topped it slightly to high so drained a little out of the sump with no problems. oil came out black as usual.

Took it for a run and did about 15 miles then got home and turned engine off for an hour . Went back to check oil and upon pulling out the dipstick there was no oil on it! Put it in again and gave a normal reading !!!

So two questions , firstly anyone know why at standstill when pulling out the dipstick for the first time it would be dry? And secondly i topped up the oil with about 250ml of fresh oil but the oil on the dipstick even after the run was clear and not black! Anyone help???

PS been under engine and had tray off and no leaks anywhere.

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oil will be black at the bottom of the engine, as all the crap settles there, the oil at the top will be clean as it's fresh. Don't worry it will all be black soon lol

It could just be the oil had settled, after your run. Just keep and eye on it.

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I need you on an information retainer Jamie! haha . Thanks for your reply mate . I wondered if the black sinks but having had mainly company cars never worried to much about the oil situation.Now i have spent money on this car i am a nervous wreck!!!

Yep changed filter

Not a good day....after thinking i had no oil in the engine and went looking for a leak i got a guy out to look at a pea size dent in the door to knock it out......said it cant be done as theres a strut behind it so now looking at having to have both sides resprayed and rear bumper.Just small scratches but a bit OCD when it comes to cars,so thats another £650 out the window :-(

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After a run the oil will have been circulating around the engine and still draining back into the sump so could explain the no oil reading until the oil had returned to the sump. However adding fresh oil and getting clean oil on the dipstick would concern me to be honest, a diesel will black the oil within a few miles of being run due to the carbon deposits in a diesel.

You should always check the oil level from cold and on a level surface to get a proper reading.

Are you still getting a clear fluid reading or is it back to being black?

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Having said that re-reading your post I assume you checked the level directly after adding the fresh oil, if so the fresh oil would likely settle on the top and hence the dipstick having clear fluid a short run and it should be back to being a black sludgy mess lol

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Done a 100 mile run this weekend and still clear!

And Jamie,it was the Paintless dent removal guy that came out that told me it couldnt be done.Your right,he WAS pointless lol.

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Is it diesel or petrol as I kind of assumed somehow it was diesel.

If it is a petrol it will take time for the oil to turn a dark golden colour, diesel cars will turn it black within a matter of a few miles. So I am now assuming your is a petrol if it is then it is normal so don't worry.

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Sorry Simon yes forgot to mention mine is a petrol engine.....you had me worrying when i read your reply.I am the forum's biggest worrier so youll see a fair number of anxious messages from me ;-) Thanks for taking the time to reply.

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In that case don't worry at all, petrol's don't turn the oil black like a diesel does, it will eventually go a darker golden brown colour but should never be totally black unless it has never been changed for years.

People with diesels who don't know much about engines, take their car for a service including oil change, they then check the oil after a run and it is black, they then think the garage have not changed the oil, diesels will turn it black very very quickly certainly within a few hundred miles at most.

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Took it for a run and did about 15 miles then got home and turned engine off for an hour . Went back to check oil and upon pulling out the dipstick there was no oil on it! Put it in again and gave a normal reading !!!

Jon, this seems to be normal, mine does the same (1.8HE petrol). I have a theory that the o-ring on the dipstick forms an airtight seal that pressurises the dipstick tube, preventing the oil moving up it - until you remove the dipstick and release the pressure.

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Hiya Mike,many thanks for your post . I was actually trying to work out over the weekend while sitting about how it is that nothing appears then putting the dipstick back in makes it appear and thought there was some kind of an air lock like you would get on the top of a demijohn but couldn't work out how it all worked.Your idea makes far more sense.Thank you Sir.

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